The Biometrics Institute is calling for a balanced dialogue to demystify biometrics, with the release of the results of its Biometrics Institute Industry Survey. This year’s survey shows privacy, data protection and legislation are main concerns within the industry.

Nearly twice as many people who completed the annual survey said controls were not tight enough – 44%, as said they were – 24%. 32% of the industry professionals who took part weren’t sure.

However, answers to further questions revealed that the industry does not think stricter regulation of the biometrics industry would stifle innovation and investment. And overall, 82% said they felt very or quite optimistic about opportunities in 2019, with technology suppliers and North Americans particularly positive.

In its tenth year, the annual survey provides an insight into trends and developments in the biometrics industry over the last year as well as looking to the future. 

Seventy-four percent of survey respondents agreed that privacy concerns are holding back the market for biometrics, according to the survey. And when asked which area was restraining the market to the greatest extent, privacy and data protection concerns dominated – 66% chose this option. Data sharing concerns came next with 43% of respondents saying these were restraining the market – up nearly 10% since last year. And 38% said poor knowledge of biometrics among decision makers are to blame for market restraints while 35% thought that misinformation about biometrics was an issue.

Privacy, data protection and ethics are clearly areas that resonate with the biometric community. In later questions, 56% agreed that there are too many instances of biometric use where informed consent hasn’t been properly obtained, up 10% from last year.

When asked where biometrics should not have been implemented the top responses were social media and school administration – each mentioned by 22%.

Thirty eight percent of the survey respondents agreed that the use of biometrics is growing too rapidly for existing controls to be effective – those in Australia and New Zealand were particularly of this view. A slightly lower proportion disagreed.

Isabelle Moeller, chief executive of the Biometrics Institute said, “Our annual survey is an opportunity for our members and others working in biometrics to share their views on the current trends and their projections for the future. The main findings confirm that a balanced and informed discussion about biometrics is more necessary than ever. Those who completed the survey clearly have questions about the current hot topics of legislation, privacy and data protection. We are facilitating ongoing discussions about the importance of rigorous processes, internal policies and the technology among our multi-stakeholder community and debating whether tougher legislation is the answer. “The belief expressed in the survey that the spread of misinformation about biometrics is restraining the market is echoed in every one of our member meetings. We know our Congress in London in October will be a major meeting point where our multi-stakeholder community will thrash out these issues. We hope anyone with an interest in responsible and ethical use will join us for a balanced discussion and help shape the future of biometrics.”